H3 visas are granted by the US government to applicants who want to visit USA for professional training or special education programs.

Another US work visa type is the H-3 or the Trainee or Special Education visitor. This type of visa is for foreign nationals who want to go to the US for a specific period of time to receive training or special education.

The H-3 visa gives its holders the right to enter the country and attend their preferred training institution that admits them. The main condition to get this visa is that the applicant must enroll in a training program which is not available in their home country.

The training program cannot be a full academic degree or medical training, but should be practical programs which equip the applicant with more advanced skills. The applicant should get this new knowledge and skills and prove that they will go back to their home country and apply them. The training program should make it possible for the applicant to advance in their career.

Who Qualifies for the H3 Visa?

There are two types of programs which qualify for the H-3 visa:

  • Training program – which can be in any field of study with the exception of medical professions and training. Examples of fields which qualify for training programs are:
    • Finance
    • Transportation
    • Agriculture
    • Communications
    • Government
    • Business, etc.
  • Special education – which means that the applicant will enroll in a theoretical or practical program to advance their knowledge about children with special needs such as:
    • Physical needs
    • Mental challenges
    • Emotional challenges

An H-3 visa does not allow its holder to work in the US. The applicant can only engage in practical work that is part of the curriculum of the training program. However, they cannot enter into any work contract that is considered formal employment in the US. To become employed, applicants would need other types of visas such as H-1B visa, H-2A visa, H-2B visa, etc.

The H-3 visa has a limited number that the US government grants each year. Out of all the applicants, the US government grants the visa to only 50 people from other countries to enter the US with this visa.

What Are The Requirements For The H-3 Visa?

To qualify for an H-3 visa, the applicant must fulfill a few conditions:

  • There must be a formal invitation for the applicant from the training institution
  • The applicant couldn’t find the program in their home country
  • The program doesn’t involve medical training
  • The applicant intends to return to their home country after the training program is over
  • The training or special education program will benefit the applicant’s career
  • The applicant will not have a full time job in the US with the exception of work foreseen in the training program

Since the institution where the training will be held must invite the applicant in order for the applicant to qualify for the visa, they should also compile a detailed description of the training program. This description should contain the following:

  • The curriculum and structure of the program
  • The time when lectures should be held, and if applicable, when and how many hours of practical work are necessary
  • The financial and other benefits that the institution gets by providing that specific type of training
  • The type of careers and professions that will benefit from the training program
  • The benefits that the applicant will get from the training
  • The reasons as to why this training program doesn’t exist in the applicant’s home country

This description should be sent to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as part of the application process detailed below.

How To Apply For The H-3 Visa?

Similar to the other H type visas, the H-3 visa cannot be initiated by the applicant. Instead, the applicant has to find the appropriate training program and apply to be admitted. The institution where the training program is being held should then initiate the H-3 visa process. As with H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B visas, the institution should then petition to the appropriate agencies for the H-3 applicant to be given a visa.

The institution that gives the training should send a petition to USCIS with the description of the training or special education program that the applicant wants to attend and also attach more documentation such as:

  • The staff of the training institution
  • The profile of the applicant with details about:
    • Education and previous degrees
    • Prior training
    • Work experience in the relevant field that the training will be about
    • Whether the applicant will receive any financial benefit from the training
  • If it is a special education institution, it should also provide proof that they offer such services or training

In addition to all this, the institution should file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker to USCIS. The fee for the document is $460. This document should be filled with the necessary information and sent to USCIS with the documents described above. The petition should be filed at a specific time, mainly more than six months before the training program will begin. This is because it will take time for it to process, and if filed later, USCIS cannot guarantee the processing of the petition and the communication of a decision.

After USCIS reviews the documents and the Form I-129, they will make a decision and send it to the training institution. If they approve the petition, they will send Form I-797 to the institution, which will help the participant to apply for the visa.

The approval of the petition will signal the training or special education participant to start applying for the H-3 visa. The visa application should be done at the US Embassy of the applicant’s home country. The applicant should submit these documents:

After submitting the documents, you will have to set an interview appointment. The interview will then be conducted to assess whether you are fit to attend the training or special education program and if you meet all the qualifications.

Your documents and the interview will form a basis upon which the US Embassy will make a decision whether to grant you the H-3 visa or not. In case of a positive response, you will then get the visa stamp and will be ready to attend the program you have been admitted to.

How Long Does It Take To Get The H-3 Visa?

Processing times for each visa vary. You will have to make sure that the institution petitions on your behalf at least 6 months before the training program starts. It will take approximately four to six weeks for USCIS to process the petition.

After that, you will have to gather your documents and proceed with the application. Depending on the demand at your local US Embassy, it might take one to three months for them to get back to you with a final decision on whether you will get the H-3 visa or not.

How Long Can I Stay In The US With An H-3 Visa?

An H-3 visa holder can stay in the US for the length of time that the training or special education program runs. That time is stated in the I-797 Form that USCIS gives to the institution when they approve Form I-129.

In principal, H-3 visas for training programs are valid for up to 2 years. After two years, the training participant must return to their home country. H-3 visas are valid for only 18 months for those who are participating in special education programs.

The H-3 visa is different from other H type visas in that it cannot be extended. After the visa expires, applicants cannot extend their stay in the US. In addition, H-3 visa holders cannot apply for the Green Card. If the participant of the training program states that they intend to apply for a US immigrant visa, their H-3 visa might be denied or revoked. They must demonstrate that they will return with the intention of applying the skills they gained during the training program.

However, H-3 visa holders can apply to change status. If you are participating in a training program, but find a job which requires an H-1B, H-2A, or H-2B visa, your employer can petition to USCIS for you to change your status.

Why Was My H-3 Visa Denied?

Since there is a maximum cap of 50 H-3 visas annually, there are a lot more petitions that are denied by USCIS and the US Embassy. Some reasons why the H-3 visa might be denied are:

  • The cap has already been fulfilled and there is no more space for H-3 visas
  • The training institution did not petition in time
  • If the training program is general and is unstructured
  • If the training participant has already completed similar training
  • If the applicant will be employed in the US
  • If the institution does not have sufficient capacity to train the applicant

Can I Bring My Family To The US On An H-3 Visa?

If you are granted an H-3 visa, your spouse and children under 21 years old can accompany you. The visa for families of H-3 holders is the H-4 visa. The H-4 visa allows studying in academic courses, but does not allow employment.

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